NCAA Ends Walters’ Career : College football: USC will appeal ruling that takes away rest of junior tailback’s eligibility for taking money from agent.
The promising college career of USC running back Shawn Walters appears to be over as the NCAA took a tough stand against sports agents Friday by refusing to restore his eligibility.
USC officials said they will file an appeal next week with the NCAA’s Eligibility Committee, which might not hear the case until after Thanksgiving. Walters, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior, is expected to testify before the committee in hopes of persuading it to overturn the ruling.
“They said the decision was based on precedent but they haven’t give us any precedent what it is based upon,” said Darrell Thompson, Walters’ attorney. “It’s ludicrous. We think the facts are very disputable.”
Walters, 22, was hoping to be restored in time to play in the Rose Bowl game in January, or at least, for the 1996 season. He held no hopes of returning for today’s UCLA-USC game at the Coliseum.
But the NCAA recently has dealt harshly with athletes found to have accepted money or other benefits from agents. Such transactions are a violation of NCAA rules.
“I think the substantial amount of money received from the agent was a substantial factor,” said Carrie Doyle, NCAA director of eligibility.
A ledger obtained by The Times indicated Walters accepted $15,900 since last year. But after a monthlong evaluation, USC officials determined about $9,000 of that money was for agent recruiters living with Walters. The player claimed he did not know his roommates, former Moorpark College football players Melvin Nunnery and Corey Tucker, worked for an agent.
Robert Lane, USC general counsel, said Walters repaid almost $4,000. School officials hoped the restitution would help reduce the severity of the conditions for restoration.
“We tried to point that out, but obviously that was something that was not persuasive,” Lane said.
Doyle said repaying an agent “doesn’t negate the fact that it is a violation.”
Walters’ case received national attention when he and two other Trojans were suspended Sept. 28 for their connections to Robert Troy Caron, an Oxnard personal injury lawyer who recently opened Pro Manage sports agency.
Because Walters lived with two Caron recruiters, he was the primary focus of the case.
Linebacker Errick Herrin was suspended for five games for receiving $860 from the recruiters. Defensive end Israel Ifeanyi was suspended for two games for accepting about $190. He also was suspended for two games for getting $3,650 from fellow Nigerians living in Los Angeles.
Walters gained 168 yards in the team’s first three victories against San Jose State, Houston and Arizona.
Walters redshirted in 1992 and broke into the starting lineup midway through the next season.
Walters led the team with 711 yards in 1993 and was the leading rusher again last season with 976 yards. His best game was against Stanford last year at Palo Alto, when he gained 234 yards and scored twice in 31 carries.
After being suspended by USC officials in September, Walters rarely attended practices and weight-training sessions.
In another case involving Caron, University of Utah basketball player Brandon Jessie is awaiting a verdict from the eligibility staff. Utah officials submitted a request for restoration last week, but now have asked the NCAA’s Legislative Service staff for a rules interpretation.
Jessie, a former Ventura College star, allegedly received a pager, a trip to Mexican resort Cancun and other benefits from Caron.
Times staff writer Earl Gustkey contributed to this story.